Scholarly Communication

10,000th paper deposited under MIT Faculty Open Access Policy

Posted October 7th, 2013 by Ellen Duranceau

This month, the 10,000th paper was added to the Open Access Articles Collection, which houses papers collected under the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy. This important milestone comes as the collection marks its fourth birthday. The collection was created in October 2009, in the wake of the faculty’s adoption of their policy, which makes their scholarly articles openly available on the web.

Sara Seager

Sara Seager

The 10,000th paper was authored by Sara Seager, who just received a MacArthur Fellowship for her work on planets outside our solar system. Her paper “Infrared transmission spectroscopy of the exoplanets HD 209458b and XO-1b using the wide field camera-3 on the hubble space telescope” can be accessed in DSpace@MIT, along with others she has written. Professor Seager comments that “it’s great that MIT is fostering open access of the MIT community’s work.”

And in fact, since the inception of the Policy in March 2009, 37% of the MIT faculty’s articles have been made openly accessible in the Open Access Articles Collection. We reported on a previous milestone, the one millionth download from the Collection, in May.

This news is reported in celebration of International Open Access Week, which begins later in October.

More information:

Ellen Finnie Duranceau, Program Manager, Scholarly Publishing & Licensing

MIT Faculty Open Access Policy FAQ

Deposit a paper under the Faculty Open Access Policy

 

Panel discussion on “New Frontiers in Open Access Publishing” Tuesday, October 22

Posted October 3rd, 2013 by Ellen Duranceau

The MIT Faculty Open Access Working Group and the MIT Libraries are cosponsoring a panel discussion of “New Frontiers in Open Access Publishing.”

The session will be held on Tuesday October 22, from 3-4:30 in E25-111.

Speakers will include:

Jacqueline Thai

Jacqueline Thai

Jacqueline Thai, of the new open access journal PeerJ
Thai is Head of Publishing Operations at PeerJ, an open access, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal in the Biological and Medical Sciences. It offers a unique business model: low-cost lifetime memberships that allow authors (if their papers are accepted) to publish once, twice, or unlimited times per year, depending on the membership level.

Tibor Tscheke

Tibor Tscheke

Tibor Tscheke, of the soon-to-be-launched publishing platform ScienceOpen.com
Tscheke is CFO and CTO of ScienceOpen.com, an open access publishing platform to support researchers in networking, accessing, organizing, and publishing their work. Founded by individuals with decades of experience in traditional scholarly publishing, ScienceOpen’s aim is to “combine the goal of open science with social networking and crowd sourcing tools to create knowledge out of a sea of information.”

Marguerite Avery, of MIT Press and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Avery is Senior Acquisitions Editor at The MIT Press. As a Fellow at the Berkman Center, Avery is focused on seeking out solutions for scholarly publishing to accommodate the changing needs of scholars, including publishing models for open access.

Marguerite Avery

Marguerite Avery

This panel is being presented in celebration of International Open Access Week, and is intended to provide a forum for discussion of new open access models of scholarly publishing and how they can serve authors and readers. We anticipate a lively and informative conversation.

Refreshments will be served.

If you have questions about this event, contact Ellen Finnie Duranceau, Program Manager, Scholarly Publishing & Licensing, MIT Libraries

OA research in the news: Faculty win “genius grants”

Posted October 2nd, 2013 by Katharine Dunn
Dina Katabi

Dina Katabi

Two MIT professors are among two dozen nationwide recipients of the 2013 MacArthur Fellowships, known as the “genius grants.” Dina Katabi, a computer scientist, works on wireless data transmission. The MacArthur Foundation cites her leadership in “accelerating our capacity to communicate high volumes of information securely without restricting mobility.” Astrophysicist Sara Seager explores planets outside our solar system; nearly a thousand have been identified since the mid-90s. The Foundation cites her as a “visionary scientist contributing importantly in every aspect of her field.” The fellowship includes a five-year $625,000 prize.

Explore Professor Katabi’s research and Professor Seager’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Sara Seager

Sara Seager

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

OA research in the news: Using solar power to clean water

Posted September 18th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn
Steven Dubowsky

Steven Dubowsky

A team of MIT researchers, led by mechanical engineering professor Steven Dubowsky, are developing a solar-powered system that can produce 1,000 liters of clean drinking water a day—a potential boon in areas where fresh water is scarce and expensive. Over the past several months, the researchers have traveled to remote areas in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to test the purification system, which includes several photovoltaic panels, a tank, pumps, filters, and computers. Communities there can be a day’s drive from drinkable water. “There may be 25 million indigenous people in Mexico alone,” Dubowsky says. “This is not a small problem. The potential for a system like this is huge.” The researchers may do similar tests of the system in other countries.

Explore Professor Dubowsky’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

OA research in the news: Maier was “one of the key intellectual figures in her field”

Posted September 4th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn
Pauline Maier

Pauline Maier

Historian Pauline Maier, who wrote award-winning books on 18th-century America, died last month at age 75. Maier had been on the MIT faculty since 1978. In one of her best-known books, American Scripture, she helped show that the Declaration of Independence was a “secular document” and a collaborative effort, not a sacred text that Thomas Jefferson wrote on his own: In her research Maier found dozens of local resolutions to declare independence from the British Crown. The New York Times named American Scripture one of the 11 best books of 1997.

“One of the key intellectual figures in her field, Pauline was also a leader at MIT—a great historian and scholar who understood the pulse of the Institute and helped guide and improve our community in profound ways,” said Deborah Fitzgerald, dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT.

“The impact of losing Pauline goes beyond family, friends, and colleagues. It extends to the young students who now will never encounter her enthusiasm, the cut of her mind, and how she made America’s past come alive,” wrote Maier’s MIT colleague John Dower in a post alongside other remembrances and tributes.

Maier was on the original faculty committee that put forward the MIT faculty Open Access Policy.

Explore Professor Maier’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

What we did on your summer vacation!

Posted August 30th, 2013 by Heather Denny

Welcome back! The MIT Libraries have been working hard during your summer vacation.  Here are some of the new things you can look forward to this fall:WhatWeDidgraphic

New Resources

  • New search tool  Finding library resources just got easier with BartonPlus. It brings together many library collections in one search interface–searching most MIT-licensed e-resources like e-books and full-text articles, as well as collections in the classic Barton catalog like books, theses, music, DVDs, and more. 
  • More options for borrowing  Borrow Direct, a partnership that allows library materials to be shared between member institutions, has expanded to include the University of Chicago. MIT users can search over 50 million volumes owned by Borrow Direct libraries through MIT’s WorldCat.
  • New guide to APIs for scholarly resources  Many scholarly publishers, databases, and products offer APIs to allow users with programming skills to more powerfully extract data to serve a variety of research purposes. With an API, users might create programmatic searches of a citation database, extract statistical data, or dynamically query and post blog content. Learn more in the APIs for Scholarly Resources guide.
  • Music Oral History Project  For over 100 years music has been a vibrant part of MIT’s culture. A new website features in-depth interviews with faculty, staff, and former students about their musical experiences at the Institute, as well as their professional careers in music or other fields.

Improved study spaces

  • Upgrades to Hayden Library  The window bays in Hayden have gotten a facelift! The windows have been cleaned, frames painted, and new shades have replaced the curtains. Also check out the  new artwork by Dennis Oppenheim that adorns the first floor wall. Additionally, a number of tables and study carrels in Hayden were refinished this summer. Coming up – we hope to reupholster some of the comfy seating on the 1st floor.

Upcoming events

  • Music & Theater Arts Composer Forums  During the fall term the Lewis Music Library will host MTA Composer Forums. Stop by the library at 5pm on Oct. 9, Oct. 23, Nov. 6, Nov. 20 to hear from featured musicians.
  •  Fall workshops Throughout the month of October the Libraries will offer a series of workshops on subject-specific resources. See the event calendar for details.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest news!

 

OA research in the news: Fighting crime with math

Posted August 21st, 2013 by Katharine Dunn
Cynthia Rudin

Cynthia Rudin

Crimes like burglary often go unwitnessed, which makes it difficult to predict and prevent a criminal’s future acts. Police analysts scour reports and databases for patterns in criminal activity, but the work is labor and time intensive. Two Sloan School of Management researchers, including associate professor Cynthia Rudin, have teamed up with Cambridge police crime analysts to develop an algorithm that quickly detects patterns including where, when, and how a crime happened. “You’re trying to find the [modus operandi] of the suspect,” Rudin told the Boston Globe. “If you can do this really effectively it can lead to an accurate suspect description.” The algorithm, called Series Finder, is built on data from nearly 5,000 housebreaks in Cambridge over a decade.

Explore Professor Rudin’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

OA research in the news: Programming with natural language

Posted July 26th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn
Regina Barzilay

Regina Barzilay

Researchers in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have demonstrated it’s possible to use English instead of specialized programming languages to complete some computing tasks. Regina Barzilay, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering, recently coauthored two new papers: One shows that a computer can take similar natural language requests and convert them into notation that allows flexible and specific searching. In the other, Barzilay and researchers describe a system that can automatically write working software programs based on natural language specifications.

Explore Professor Barzilay’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

APIs for scholarly resources: A guide for getting started

Posted July 23rd, 2013 by Mark Clemente

APIs, short for application programming interface, are tools used to share content and data between software applications.  APIs are used in many contexts, but some examples include embedding content from one website into another, dynamically pulling content from one application to display in another application, or extracting data from a database in a more programmatic way than a regular user interface might allow.

Many scholarly publishers, databases, and products offer APIs to allow users with programming skills to more powerfully extract data to serve a variety of research purposes.  With an API, users might create programmatic searches of a citation database, extract statistical data, or dynamically query and post blog content.

To learn more about these APIs, the MIT Libraries offer a guide to APIs for scholarly resources.  The guide lists commonly used scholarly resources at MIT that make their APIs available for use, including Nature, Web of Science, arXiv, PubMed, Scopus, and others.  If you have programming skills and would like to use APIs in your research, use the guide to begin your exploration.

For more information, please contact Mark Clemente, Library Fellow for Scholarly Publishing and Licensing, at clemente@mit.edu.

 

PubMed logoPLoS logoORCID logoarXiv logo

 

 

OA research in the news: Challenges for women entrepreneurs

Posted July 11th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn
Fiona Murray

Fiona Murray

Last month, Dell released its first Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI), a report analyzing conditions that help women entrepreneurs flourish in various countries. The United States was the top-ranked nation in the list, though the report notes there is room for improvement in all countries because “women and men are not on a level playing field in terms of access to resources, which continues to impact women’s ability to start and grow businesses.” In light of the GEDI study, MIT News recently spoke with Fiona Murray, a professor in the Sloan School of Management, about her research and MIT’s role in supporting women entrepreneurs.

Explore Professor Murray’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

OA research in the news: Bertschinger appointed as Community & Equity Officer

Posted June 27th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn
Edmund Bertschinger

Edmund Bertschinger

Last week, MIT Provost Chris Kaiser announced that physics department head Edmund Bertschinger will take on a newly created role as Institute Community and Equity Officer. Bertschinger will work with Kaiser and President Rafael Reif to “help make MIT a place where everyone truly feels they belong,” said Reif. Bertschinger has worked for years on issues of diversity and inclusion: he’s served on MIT’s Committee on Race and Diversity since 2009 and has chaired the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Office of Minority Education since 2010. As department head, he has used mentoring to encourage women and underrepresented minorities to get involved in physics research and education. Bertschinger’s research is in cosmology with a focus on the growth of the structure in the universe.

Explore Professor Bertschinger’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

MIT responds to White House directive on expanding open access

Posted June 14th, 2013 by Ellen Duranceau

MIT has issued a response to the White House in support of open access again — this time to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in relation to the OSTP’s February 22 directive on public access to federally funded research and data. The directive asks each federal agency with over $100 million in annual research and development expenditures to create a plan to support increased public access to the results of research they fund, and gives them six months (until August 22) to come up with policies that would make both articles and data openly available to the public.

For articles, MIT’s response calls for copyright to be “assigned…in a non-exclusive manner to ensure frictionless reuse” including for “discovery, sharing, and text mining.” MIT also supports enhancing access through the use of open licensing (e.g. via Creative Commons), which would maximize the potential for reuse and “fuel innovation.” The response recommends that publications be made available within six months of publication — but certainly no later than 12 months — and that “common procedures, requirements, and processes should be established across all funding agencies” so that participation is convenient for authors.

For data, MIT reiterated the call for common practices. In addition, MIT recommended persistent identifiers for data sets, and an “agreed-upon standard for citing data” which would “enable easy reuse and verification,” as well as “allow the impact of data to be tracked.” Other recommendations open access to data included developing a “minimum set of core metadata” and “an API for standards-based data exchange, to help ensure a level of interoperability and discovery across all disciplines.” The response also emphasizes the need for common legal agreements that ensure discovery, mining, reuse and sharing and recommends against allowing any “single entity or group” being allowed to “secure an exclusive right over digital data or new business opportunities.”

Following MIT’s response, the Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and the Association of Research Libraries issued a proposal called SHARE in response to the directive. The proposal emphasizes that “universities have invested in the infrastructure, tools, and services necessary to provide effective and efficient access to their research and scholarship,” and that to meet the goals of the White House directive they could develop a federated “system of cross-institutional digital repositories” to be called the “SHared Access Research Ecosystem (SHARE).” Publishers have also put forward their own proposal.

Background information:

White house directive on open access to data and publications

Responses to directive, including MIT’s on publications (see p. 71) and on data (see p. 25)

Publisher proposal (CHORUS)

Association of American Universities, APLU, and ARL proposal (SHARE); also discussed in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Prior MIT Responses to open access inquiries from the OSTP in 2010 and 2012

OA research in the news: Tracking bird flu

Posted June 13th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn

Ram Sasisekharan

New studies coauthored by biological engineering professor Ram Sasisekharan show that two bird flu strains could become highly infectious among humans with just a few genetic mutations. Both strains have already jumped from birds to humans, though neither has spread beyond a few hundred people. “There is cause for concern,” Sasisekharan told the MIT News. But the researchers hope their work can be used to develop better vaccines. “Our research provides insights to help keep track of potentially important mutations so that proactive steps can be taken to be better prepared against dangerous viruses,” he said.

Explore Professor Sasisekharan’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

OA research in the news: Modern dance meets robotics

Posted May 30th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn

Umbrella Project performance premiere, fall 2012

Earlier this month, more than 250 members of the MIT community gathered on Jack Berry Field carrying specially made umbrellas that lit up with red, blue, and green LED lights via handheld controllers. They were there to perform UP: The Umbrella Project, a collaboration between CSAIL’s Distributed Robotics Lab and the dance company Pilobolus. Directed by a Pilobolus team member and shot by video from above, UP participants walked about, changing the hue of their umbrellas in a live performance piece. The purpose wasn’t solely artistic: CSAIL director Daniela Rus and fellow researchers will study the video to explore the behaviors of large groups. “While our work with robotics and Pilobolus’ work with modern dance may seem at first glance unrelated, we have found there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained at the intersection of art and science that offers deep insight into human behavior, findings that are incredibly useful to the field of computer science,” said Rus.

Explore Professor Rus’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

Berinsky Awarded for Contributions to Public Opinion Data

Posted May 16th, 2013 by Katherine McNeill

Berinsky photo

Adam Berinsky, Professor of Political Science and director of the Political Experiments Research Lab (PERL), has won the Warren J. Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.  Berinsky shares the award with Eric Schickler of the University of California, Berkeley.

The award honors their project of rehabilitating hundreds of under-utilized opinion polls from the 1930s-1950s that were in an obsolete and cumbersome format.  At the project’s completion, nearly one thousand surveys will have been reformatted, labeled and re-deposited with the Roper Center for easier access by the research community.

Want to access this public opinion data yourself?  Use aggregate statistics or micro-level poll results?  Access the Libraries’ Roper Center membership at: http://libraries.mit.edu/get/roper  (note: you’ll need to set up an individual account on their site to download data).

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research is a leading archive of social science data, specializing in public opinion. The data held by the Roper Center range from the 1930s, when survey research was in its infancy, to the present.

For more resources, see also:

OA research in the news: Can IP rights slow innovation?

Posted May 16th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn

Intellectual property rights may give incentive to people and companies to do creative work, but do they also hinder subsequent innovation? This is the question economics professor Heidi Williams asks in a new paper published in a recent issue of the Journal of Political Economy. Over a decade ago, the government-funded Human Genome Project and the private firm Celera each published work on human genome sequencing. From day one, the HGP put its sequenced genes in the public domain, while Celera relied on IP rights to protect its work, selling data to firms and requiring licenses for any commercial products developed.

Williams investigated how the 1,600 genes covered by Celera’s IP—which all eventually went into the public domain—fared compared with genes initially sequenced by the HGP. She found that Celera’s genes were less likely to be the focus of both scientific research and commercial development, even years after the Celera genes were freely available. “One additional year of Celera’s intellectual property translates to a persistent and permanent difference in whether we figure out whether it is linked to disease,” Williams told the Boston Globe. She suggests that IP rights reduced subsequent scientific research and product development by 20 to 30 percent.

Explore Professor Williams’ research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

New milestone for Open Access @ MIT: one million downloads

Posted May 10th, 2013 by Ellen Duranceau

Four years after the MIT faculty adopted their Open Access Policy, a significant new milestone has been reached: Papers made openly available through the Open Access Articles Collection have been downloaded over 1 million times. Total downloads from the collection of just under 9,000 papers reached 1,045,518 by the end of April.

Another highwater mark was met in April as well: monthly downloads topped 65,000 for the first time, with a total of 67,319 downloads from around the world that month.

These downloads come from all around the world, reaching traditional as well as new audiences for MIT faculty publications.

More information about the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy:

FAQ about the Policy
Deposit a paper under the Policy
Readers of MIT Open Access Papers

OA research in the news: Boyden honored for optogenetics work

Posted May 1st, 2013 by Katharine Dunn

Ed Boyden, an associate professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, has won Brandeis University’s Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine. Boyden shares the prize with researchers at Stanford University and the University of Oxford. It honors their contributions to optogenetics, a technology now widely used to study brain activity. In March, Boyden was also honored for this work by winning (along with five others) the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize, known as the Brain Prize. Last month, Boyden traveled to the White House for President Obama’s announcement of a new initiative to understand the human brain, which will invest $100 million in research starting in 2014.

Explore Professor Boyden’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

OA research in the news: The Townsend Thai Project

Posted April 18th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn

In 1997, economist Robert Townsend and colleague Sombat Sakunthasathien, a Thai government researcher, began to gather data on family and community finances in rural and urban Thailand. They’ve never stopped. Their program, the Thai Family Research Project (part of the Townsend Thai Project), includes surveys of 2,880 households and 262 community groups. It has resulted in hundreds of thousands of data points, making it one of the largest datasets in the developing world. Among their findings is that much of Thailand’s expanding economy is coming from rural areas. They’ve now written a book, Chronicles from the Field, which delves into statistics but also recounts the human side of doing field work. “Organizations deal with people, and this is all about the people,” Townsend tells the MIT News. “You need to build up trust. The households need to understand why you’re asking them all these questions, and you need to be honest with them. By going back, you establish that you care.”

The book is accompanied by a documentary film, “Emerging Thailand: The Spirit of Small Enterprise,” which will screen at MIT on April 23 at 5:30 p.m. in E25-111.

Explore Professor Townsend’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

Open access gains momentum in Washington

Posted April 12th, 2013 by Katharine Dunn

White House takes action to increase access to the results of federally funded scientific research

When MIT faculty adopted an open access (OA) policy for their scholarly articles in March 2009, they expressed a strong philosophical commitment to disseminating “the fruits of their research and scholarship” as widely as possible. The MIT Libraries are paying close attention to recent events in Washington that have the potential to expand this commitment to include a significant percentage of all federally funded research in the United States.

On February 22, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a directive asking each federal agency with over $100 million in annual research and development expenditures to develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of research they fund. Agencies have six months to come up with policies that would make both articles and data openly available to the public, consistent with a set of objectives set out in the memorandum. The OSTP has been evaluating the need for more open access to federally funded research for several years; in 2010 and 2012 it collected public comments, including those from MIT.

Eight days earlier, on February 14, bipartisan lawmakers in both houses of Congress introduced a bill called the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), which would provide open access to work funded by US government agencies that spend at least $100 million a year on research. FASTR is a stronger version of an earlier bill that failed to make it out of committee. It asks that authors make their peer-reviewed manuscripts available to OA repositories within six months of publication; that agencies devise common deposit procedures (thus making the law easier to comply with); and that articles are deposited in a format and under terms that allow them to be widely reused and analyzed.

“By next year, I hope we can say: Don’t give candy; give knowledge,” writes Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Open Access Project, in his analysis of the Valentine’s Day bill.

Suber calls the executive and legislative strategies complementary. The directive alone isn’t law, which means the next president could rescind it. As for FASTR, it’s unclear whether it will be adopted and how the sequester — the across-the-board budget cuts to federal agencies — will affect it.

“The legislative situation in Washington is problematic due to the budget impasse,” says Ann Wolpert, director of MIT Libraries. “But open access advocacy groups continue to keep pressure on the appropriate committees of Congress.”

In late February, Wolpert published a serendipitously timed article in the New England Journal of Medicine called “For the Sake of Inquiry and Knowledge — The Inevitability of Open Access.” The article was one of four opinion pieces on the pros and cons of OA that the journal commissioned last fall. In it Wolpert explores the “powerful motivations” underlying open access, including the fact that scholarly authors write for impact, not royalties, that much of research is taxpayer funded, and that journal publishers have often disproportionally raised their subscription prices. The Internet, of course, was the disruption to the long-running, intricate scholarly publishing system that has enabled open access.

“For all its known flaws, no one wants to destroy peer-reviewed publication,” Wolpert writes. “But the nonpublisher stakeholders in the scholarly communication system can no longer support the prices and access constraints desired by traditional publishers.”

Because of the diversity of research culture, Wolpert writes, we should expect open access to come in fits and starts depending on the discipline and on new communication tools that will “flourish or perish.”

For now, the White House directive provides a welcome push. “I’m confident the library community and academia will be active during this time in support of plans that make sense from the perspective of research universities and their libraries,” Wolpert says, adding that the MIT Faculty Open Access Working Group of the Committee on the Library System has both FASTR and the directive on its upcoming agenda.